We live where 'A Christmas Carol' was filmed - the town crier was Scrooge's ghost

Residents of a town made famous by the film A Christmas Carol say it “put them on the map” and even made some locals minor celebrities. Shrewsbury’s historic streets formed the backdrop for the majority of the scenes in the 1984 film adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic novella. The movie starred American Oscar-winner George C Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge, as well as Edward Woodward and Welsh actor Roger Rees. Almost 40 years after it was made, many locals remember featuring in the film as extras, not to mention a man who was even Woodward’s body double. Town crier Martin Wood, 66, remembers being spotted early on by the production crew on account of his towering 7ft 2in height. He was stunned to be asked to stand in as the body double for Woodward’s Ghost of Christmas Present character. Martin, who still holds the crown as the world’s tallest town crier, said: “The crew saw me right away, it wasn’t hard to miss me. “They said the character was a giant and they needed me for some back shots, I jumped at the chance. “Edward Woodward was on stilts as he was only a shorty and these stilts were made by NASA of all people. “He got these stilts on and he came and stood by the side of me and he was still a little bit shorter than me. “I just said ‘terribly sorry Mr Woodward, you’re just too short for the job.’ “He turned to the guy and said ‘just jack me up a couple of inches’ and he was just taller than me and said ‘right, let’s see you do that’. “I also doubled for Michael Carter who was the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come character. “There’s loads of memories. It’s just a fantastic film to work with. They were all fantastic actors and actresses. It was all great fun. “George C Scott even brought over the first Trivial Pursuit board game which we played in the breaks between filming, we’d never seen it here before.” Martin also takes advantage of his notoriety by taking tourists and Christmas Carol fans on tours of the town where the most iconic scenes were filmed. He said: “I do a lot of guided tours and I take a lot of Americans. "They all go bananas over the film particularly the scene where Scrooge shouts out the window on Christmas morning to the boy on the bicycle. “I string them on a little bit. I say I’d like to introduce you to somebody. “I say, ‘remember the bit in the film where Scrooge is kneeling at the grave? "I said ladies and gentlemen I’d like to introduce you to the finger. I usually draw a face on the end of it. “I say this is the finger that actually told Scrooge to get on his knees. And they all take photographs of the finger.” Other locals had smaller roles but still remember the thrill of being on set with the stars of the day. Marketing consultant Fiona Hankin, 67, says she was paid £5 per day for two days work as an extra. She said: “The director has asked local drama groups to send anybody they thought might be interested in doing a screen test as an extra. “I just thought, ‘why not, it might be fun’ and did a screen test and I was asked to be a governess, a strictly non-speaking role. “When they were filming it was March 1983 but there was fake snow all over the ground and on the rooves. It was amazing really for the time. “George C Scott was kept apart from us and he had two minders in suits with him to make sure he wasn’t bothered by all of us. “When we did meet him he was a lovely man and very friendly. He would always take the time to speak to the extras. “They weren’t all so lovely though, I remember Roger Rees who played Fred (Scrooge’s nephew). “He was the most arrogant, ignorant person I think I have met for quite some time. “He didn’t associate with the rest of us, and he spent most of the time on the phone to his agent talking about this that and the other, and then saying ‘all these people, extras who are being paid, haven’t got equity cards. I don’t think it’s right’. “There were suggestions he was drinking a lot and could be quite mean so it was best he wasn’t around too many people. “The rest were lovely, Edward Woodward had not long had a baby as the baby was with them. They were all really nice people. “They were genuinely interested in us. “It was a mark of Edward Woodward that he sat with us in the green room. “I am really proud of the fact that such an iconic memorable film was filmed in Shrewsbury. “It really put us on the map and I just love it when people stop ask about the film and I just say ‘Oh yes, I was in it.’ “Their faces are an absolute picture.” Retired teacher Pamela Wood, 70, remembers her mother racing to the town hall to watch the filming take place. She said: “My mum went up to see it by the town halls and my mum had a picture with George C Scott. “I think mum had a crush on him and was just thrilled to meet her idol. “There is quite a tourist industry which has grown up around the film with tours of the main filming locations. The town has hardly changed since then.” One of the key characters in the movie, Tiny Tim, was played by local schoolboy Anthony Walters. Now aged 40, Anthony runs a hot-desk company in the town but has moved to London. Anthony was plucked from Prestfelde School aged five and propelled to stardom – and no-one in Shrewsbury has ever let him forget it. “Some people actually think I am called Tim,” he said. Recalling his time on set, he said: “The town must have been completely deserted on the day of filming. “The director said ‘action’ and George came over yelling, ‘Stop begging on that corner boy!’ “His complete change of personality terrified me. I froze on the spot and burst into tears. "That was the first time I understood this is what real acting was. I got the hang of it after that.” Anthony lost his front baby tooth half way through filming which caused problems for the production crew. He said: “The dentist tried everything to glue it back in. They managed to cobble it together. I had a person in charge of my tooth by the end.”
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2000Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or MiniseriesInherit the Wind (1999 film)Nominated
1998Golden GlobeBest Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made12 Angry Men (1997 film)Nominated
1998Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries12 Angry Men (1997 film)Nominated
1998Emmy (Primetime)Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie12 Angry Men (1997 film)Winner
1985Emmy (Primetime)Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or SpecialA Christmas Carol (1984 film)Nominated